Traveller Zombies

Posted: 25 January 2011 in Rules

“Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the violent zombie mayhem?” – Seth Grahame-Smith, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.

Isn’t every game better with zombies?

(Don’t give me grief about plausibility and hard SF. Go read Larry Niven’s “Night on Mispec Moor”. Back already? Good.)

Like most things, zombies are easy to add to an Old School RPG. Start with 100kg eaters. They come in packs of 2d. They will always attack unless the PCs surprise them. In combat, they will always attempt to close range, so that they can use their hands to drag their victims to the ground and eat them, but cannot run, so only close one range band per turn. If the PCs shoot them, each 6 rolled on a hit or damage die means another zombie shambles to the attack. If you want to run them as NPCs rather than animal encounters, zombies ignore the first wound rule. Any hit from a zombie which causes damage transmits a disease which inflicts 2d wounds per day until the victim dies; about a day later, he rises from the dead as a new zombie. (There is rumoured to be a cure, of course, but the PCs have to find it and apply it. Good luck with that.)

These are the classic Romero zombies. If you want the more modern view of sprinters rather than shamblers, allow them to run, otherwise don’t.

Animal Weight Hits Armour Wounds & Weapons Att/Flee/ Speed
7 Zombies 100 kg 18 / 7 Jack 4 Hands A1 F9 S1

There we go; job done.

  1. Frankymole says:

    “Blakes 7” back in ’79 had an episode where a 700-year old “lost” ship from early Terran exploration showed up in a system too far away for it to have reached naturally (it was a sublight explorer, with its tiny crew in cold sleep – because it had been lost so long, they were of course freeze-dried corpses, any chance of life support long since exhausted). The ship was boarded using sterile methods and the corpses were quarantined pending autopsy. During autopsy, one of the corpses was found to have nil brain activity but some indications of drastic neuro-cybernetic surgery having been carried out – just before it reanimated briefly and strangled the doctor doing the autopsy. (Spooky scene with the observers outside the lab noticing the brain activity flare up on the readouts before the sceptical doctor did!).

    Cue panicked rescue personnel rushing in to help the doctor (too late); breaking the quarantine. Turns out the zombie was a Trojan Horse to deliver a virus/space plague to humanity, a mysterious unseen alien race deciding they wanted a quarantine of their own by wiping out any humans whoever travelled in space. A long game strategy but quite effective – anyone now visiting the autopsy planet risked spreading a plague far and wide, and the virus was geneered to only affect bodies that had been subjected to the stresses of (hyper)space travel. “Stay on Earth or else”.

    Zombies in space can work even in “hard” SF scenarios!

  2. Epic Prime says:

    Pretty good, I’m actually running a Zombie event on a space station next weekend, a disease called Malkavian Berserker Syndrome, as it started on Malkavia VII. I’m using them as animals now thanks to you!!! Awesome advice.

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